Claire Foy talks The Crown pay controversy: 'I'm not surprised people went, "That's a bit odd"'
Actress responds to revelation over wage disparity
Claire Foy has told EW that she is “not surprised” the news that she got paid less than costar Matt Smith for appearing on Netflix’s The Crown became such a big story. On March 13, Variety reported that executives at Left Bank Pictures, the production company behind The Crown, revealed at a conference in Jerusalem that Smith, who played Prince Philip opposite Foy’s Queen Elizabeth II on the first two seasons of the show, received greater remuneration because of the actor’s higher profile coming off his stint on Doctor Who. Left Bank creative director Suzanne Mackie promised the situation would be rectified in the forthcoming third and fourth seasons. “Going forward, no one gets paid more than the queen,” she said.
The revelation about the pay disparity inspired a large number of news stories as well as a petition at Care2 addressed to both Smith and Netflix CEO Reed Hastings asking they “make up for this sexist pay gap” by donating the difference in their paychecks to Time’s Up. Last week, Left Bank Pictures issued an apology to the show’s two lead actors for finding themselves “at the the centre of a media storm…through no fault of their own…As the producers of The Crown, we at Left Bank Pictures are responsible for budgets and salaries; the actors are not aware of who gets what and cannot be held personally responsible for the pay of their colleagues.” Left Bank also clarified that it is reevaluating its approach to the gender pay gap. “We understand and appreciate the conversation which is rightly being played out across society and we are absolutely united with the fight for fair pay, free of gender bias and for a rebalancing of the industry’s treatment of women, both those in front of the camera and for those behind the scenes,” said the company. “We all have a responsibility to do what we can to ensure that these issues are tackled, and as a leading production company we want to make our contribution to the debate. So, we are now going to be in talks with the TimesUp UK campaign and ERA 50:50; organizations which are working to ensure all women have a voice.”
“I’m surprised because I’m at the center of it, and anything that I’m at the center of like that is very very odd, and feels very very out of ordinary,” Foy told EW on Friday. “But I’m not [surprised about the interest in the story] in the sense that it was a female-led drama. I’m not surprised that people saw [the story] and went, ‘Oh, that’s a bit odd.’ But I know that Matt feels the same that I do, that it’s odd to find yourself at the center [of a story] that you didn’t particularly ask for.”
So, has the controversy dimmed Foy’s enthusiasm for watching the next season of The Crown, on which the role of Queen Elizabeth will be taken by Broadchurch actress Olivia Colman. Apparently not.
“I’ll be asking to see it earlier than it’s available,” said the actress. “I can’t wait to see it. I think Olivia Colman’s amazing.”
Foy can currently be seen in Steven Soderbergh’s just-released thriller, Unsane. Watch the film’s trailer, above.